The Cyprus Problem: realpolitik

by George Hatjoullis

English: Map of the districts of Cyprus, named...

English: Map of the districts of Cyprus, named in English, with English annotations, and showing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas, and United Nations buffer zone. The individual maps see below. Deutsch: Karte der Distrikte Zyperns: Griechische Verwaltungszonen, Türkische Republik Nordzypern, UK-Militärbasen, UN-Pufferzone (englische Beschriftung). Zu den Einzelkarten siehe unten “Individual maps”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An earlier blog [Cyprus a special case for the eurozone: moral hazard revisited] traced the callous treatment of the Republic of Cyprus by the troika to the apparent duplicity of President Tassos Papadopoulos in achieving EU membership for Cyprus without reunification. This resentful attitude towards Greek Cypriots is not new and is forever evident in the press.

On November 12, 2010, the FT published an editorial entitled ‘Cyprus Endgame‘. This was a frank editorial and made clear this resentful and dismissive attitude towards Greek Cypriots. The telling sentence was;

“They [the EU] believe Turkey’s rising geopolitical and economic importance makes it imperative to show Ankara that the EU will not be hostage to the Greek Cypriots forever.”

The FT was gracious enough to publish my response.

On February 19, 2013, the FT published an article by Tony Barber entitled “Cypriot crisis creates one last chance to reunify the island‘. The theme of this article was that the need for cash by the Republic should be used as blackmail to force a reunification of the island. My response to this article was also kindly published by the FT.         [ ]

The justice or otherwise of the treatment of the Republic is, it seems, secondary to the needs of international realpolitik. Turkey is important and the Greek Cypriots are not.

I came to terms with this on a July morning in 1974, as Turkish jets bombed the hotel that i was staying in. It could also be argued that the Greek Cypriots are their own worst enemies and have contributed to their own downfall. This is true, but the realpolitik argument implies their downfall was inevitable. Greek Cypriots could be saints but Turkey is still more important to the great powers.

Cyprus is not going to receive the same treatment in it its financial difficulties as other member states. The brutality of its treatment surpasses even that of the treatment of Greece. The sooner the present administration grasp this the sooner they will have the frame of mind to respond in the best interest of the Republic. The financial ‘rescue’ offered the Republic does not in fact rescue the Republic. It is a recipe for disaster and a disorderly exit from the eurozone. A negotiated exit would be orderly and less damaging than proceeding on the present trajectory. A disorderly exit would be much worse than even the present deal.

An orderly exit would give the administration, or some other administration, time and the incentive to reorganise and deal with long overdue matters such as reunification, relations with Turkey and the successful exploitation of the gas reserves. It is in these matters that the long-term future of Cyprus sits and not in clinging to the euro.